Red Sox - 010 402 001 - 8 12 0With the Rays losing 6-4 in Toronto, the Red Sox are now only 2.5 GB in the East -- the closest they have been to first place since July 29.
Rangers - 000 000 001 - 1 6 1
Beckett was dominant (5-4-0-0-7, 80). Three of those four hits came in the fourth inning; the first runner was erased on a double play.
Lowell homered in his first AB, and added a two-run single and a one-run double. Coco Crisp had three hits and three RBI. He and Jacoby Ellsbury hit back-to-back triples on consecutive pitches in the sixth inning.
Jason Varitek had two singles and a walk and Jason Bay doubled and walked twice. Dustin Pedroia doubled in the first inning, but then was quiet until a walk in the eighth. The only Sock to not reach base was David Ortiz.
Despite the high score, Francona went with Manny Delcarmen, Justin Masterson, and Hideki Okajima out of the pen.
Both Central contenders won their games by a 10-2 score: White Sox over the Angels and the Twins over the Tigers. The Mariners beat the Yankees 3-1; Brandon Morrow, in his first start after 100 relief appearances, came within four outs of throwing a no-hitter.
First baseman Sean Casey, third baseman Mike Lowell and tonight's starting pitcher Josh Beckett have officially been activated off of the disabled list ...Since the All-Star break, Lowell is hitting .187/.253/.253 in 22 games/99 PA, all of them in either the #4 or #5 spot. I hope Tito stops batting him in front ahead of Jason Bay -- .305/.356/.500 in 29 games/132 PA in a Red Sox uniform.
Casey (neck) has not played since Aug. 19, Lowell (right oblique) has not played since Aug. 12 and Beckett (elbow) has not pitched since Aug. 17.
Josh Beckett (4.34, 104 ERA+) / Kevin Millwood (4.84, 89 ERA+)
Tony Massarotti has moved from the Herald to the Globe (many of Boston's sportswriters have been playing musical chairs recently) and he discusses Josh Beckett's return from the disabled list tonight. He says Beckett will be limited to 55-60 pitches. Also expected back tonight are Mike Lowell and Sean Casey (and maybe Kevin Youkilis).
The Herald has been hit hard this summer, with Mazz to the Globe, Rob Bradford to WEEI and Jeff Horrigan to retirement. The Hartford Courant will cut its original reporting on the Red Sox after this season, leaving Jeff Goldberg out in the cold. And Gordon Edes recently left the Globe for Yahoo.
Amalie Benjamin has a brief wrap-up of how Boston's minor league playoff teams are doing:
After Pawtucket and Portland lost Wednesday in the openers of their postseason series, the Sox affiliates split yesterday. Portland lost its second game in the Eastern League playoffs to host Trenton, 4-3. Starter Clay Buchholz allowed three runs on six hits with one walk in six innings. He struck out nine and got a no-decision. That series continues tonight at Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine, at 7 as the Sea Dogs try to avoid a sweep in the best-of-five series. Host Pawtucket pulled out Game 2 of the International League series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (the Yankees' Triple A affiliate), 3-1. Jason Lane and Jeff Corsaletti hit home runs, making Devern Hansack a winner. Game 3 is tonight at 7:05.More on Hansack's fantastic outing (six no-hit innings) here. ... Could someone send this link to Hank Steinbrenner? ... Great picture here.
On The Big Board:
Rays/Blue Jays at 7
Tigers/Twins at 8
Angels/White Sox at 8
Yankees/Mariners at 10East*: The White Sox (78-61, 4 GB Boston) lead the Central.
Rays 85 53 --- Magic #: 21
Red Sox 82 57 3.5
Red Sox 82 57 --- Magic #: 18
Twins* 77 63 5.5
Yankees# 75 65 7.7
#: Included simply for laughs. Any combination of Tampa Bay wins and New York losses totalling 13 eliminates the Yankees from winning the East. Any combination of Red Sox wins and New York losses totalling 16 eliminates the Yankees from winning the wild card. YED is nigh!